A spokesperson for the prime minister has dismissed claims that the G7 summit is to blame for a surge in coronavirus cases in Cornwall.
“Obviously we don’t accept this claim,” the spokesperson told the Downing Street lobby briefing.
“Attendees going to the G7 were tested before arriving and throughout the summit, and we’re not aware of any cases of transmission to local residents.”
“We always said that, following the move to step 3, we will see cases rising across the country. That is what we’re seeing playing out,” he added.
According to the latest government data, cases in Cornwall over the past week are up 126.3 per cent on the previous week – markedly higher than the UK as a whole, which reported a 31.1 per cent increase in that period.
Cases have been particularly concentrated in the ward that includes Carbis Bay, a particular hotspot for G7 visitors. Here, the latest data shows that 426 per 100,000 people have coronavirus – one of the highest infection rates in the UK.
Before the G7 summit took place, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had extremely low case numbers: one week before, on 4 June, just seven infections were reported.
Although all G7 attendees were tested like the PM spokesperson said, health experts have warned that the influx of thousands of people to Cornwall to enable such a large scale event – including 6500 on-duty police officers – is where Covid infections could multiply.
Coronavirus modeller Dr Duncan Robertson took to Twitter to explain the event’s associated risks, and said that the G7 had inadvertently acted as a “pilot” for future events, as many people came from outside Cornwall to help.
“There will be both a lot more activity and a lot more testing due to the G7,” he tweeted. “Setting up the venue causes activity and mixing which can spread Covid.”
“Even though events may (or may not be) ‘Covid secure’ (whatever that means), ancilliary activity (travel to/from events, socialising before/after events) may not be,” he added.
As case rate data rose last week, Andy Virr, a doctor and Cornwall council’s cabinet member for health, said the G7 summit “was not the cause of this new spike”. But according to local media reports, this is not the prevailing belief in the area.
Meanwhile, Robert Peston last week dubbed the rising coronavirus cases in Cornwall an “unwelcome gift” from the G7 summit.